How to Replace Vinyl Window Glass: Guide to Everything

how to replace vinyl window glass

Last Updated on October 2, 2023

Who wants to stare out at a hazy, scratched window pane? It’s time to take matters into your own hands and replace that old vinyl window glass with shiny new glazing.

It will not only provide a beautiful, crystal clear view, but also improve the energy efficiency of your windows. That means lower utility bills and a more comfortable home environment.

But there are so many options beyond the clear glass – tinted or mirrored glass can increase privacy, while frosted or textured styles add a unique flair to any room. You could even choose colored glass that complements the exterior of your home.

To replace your old vinyl window glass, begin by removing the window sash and measuring the pane’s dimensions. After ordering the right-sized replacement glass, remove old panes, clean the frame, and install the new glass. Secure with glazing points or caulk, then reposition the sash.

And the best part is that by taking on the project yourself, you can save money and potentially invest in upgraded glass options like low-E coatings or double-paned insulation. You may find it challenging to make a decision with all these options, but it will be worth it in terms of both function and style.

We will give you insight into how you can accomplish this DIY project despite these challenges. Read on to learn how to replace vinyl window glass.

Types of Vinyl Windows

Types of Vinyl Windows

While wooden windows were traditionally the go-to option for manufacturers and homeowners, vinyl windows have quickly become a top choice due to their durability and ease of maintenance. Initially introduced as a novel experiment with alternative materials in 1954, vinyl windows now stand out for their ability to resist rust and rot.

Not only are they low-maintenance, but they are also the most affordable option on the market today. Your home can be fitted with various vinyl windows, each of which may require a slightly different method for replacing the glass.

The following are the most common types of vinyl windows:

Single-hung Windows

These windows have a bottom sash that lowers and an upper sash that remains stationary. To replace the glass, you will need to remove the sash stop and parting stop, then pry out the lower sash.

Double-hung Windows

Similar to single-hung windows, double-hung windows have two movable sashes, that operate vertically. You will need to remove the old glass pane before you can remove the glazing beads, which hold the glass in place.

Sliding Windows

As the name implies, these windows have sashes that slide open horizontally, with one or two sashes that slide past each other. The glass in a sliding window is held in place by glazing vinyl or metal, which you will need to remove before taking out the old glass pane.

Casement Windows

These windows are hinged on one side and open outward, like a door. To replace the glass in a casement window, you will need to remove the entire sash.

Awning Windows

Similar to casement windows, awning windows are hinged on one side but open outward at the bottom. To replace the glass, you will need to remove the entire sash.

Bay and Bow Windows

These windows are composed of three or more panels that project outward from the wall of your home. To replace the glass in a bay or bow window, you will need to remove each individual panel or the entire window unit from the frame.

Stationary Windows

Also called picture windows, the unique option does not open at all but instead provides a clear, unobstructed view from its large expanse of glass. These windows are non-operational and usually used for decorative purposes.

They usually have a larger glass panel than other types of vinyl windows. To replace the glass, you will need to remove the entire window frame.

And that’s not all, vinyl windows come in two different framing styles.

  • Solid frame: Solid frame windows provide a strong and sturdy structure
  • Track frame: Track frame windows allow for easy cleaning and maintenance. 

If your window has a track frame, the glass will be held in place by metal or plastic sides that run along the inside of the window. On the other hand, solid-frame windows will have a solid piece of vinyl running around the entire perimeter of the window.

The glass in these windows is fixed with press-in glazing points or by screws that go through the vinyl into the wood frame beneath. Now that you know the different types of vinyl windows, as well as how they are constructed, we can move on to the next step: prepping for the replacement!

Glass Options for Vinyl Windows:

The most common type of glass is clear float glass, which is the standard option for new windows. But don’t be afraid to think outside the box (or the window pane).

Gone are the days when clear glass was your only option. Now, homeowners have a variety of glass choices for their vinyl windows.

Insulated double-pane glass is the clear winner for energy efficiency and overall performance. These windows consist of two panes of glass with a layer of air in between, acting as an insulator.

Insulated double-pane glass

These windows create an effective barrier against outside temperatures when combined with vinyl framing. If energy efficiency is a top priority for you, look no further than insulated double-pane glass in your vinyl windows, including tinted and textured options.

One popular option is low-emissivity glass, also known as Low-E glass. This type of glass is coated with a special layer that helps reflect heat and UV rays, providing additional insulation for your home.

Low-E glass

In turn, Low-E glass can significantly reduce energy costs for both heating and cooling. While it may come with a higher initial cost, the long-term savings make investing in Low-E glass a smart decision for any homeowner.

Another option is tinted or reflective glass, which can help regulate temperatures and improve comfort levels in the home. Tinted and reflective glass can help control the temperature inside by deflecting and absorbing harsh sunlight.

Tinted or Reflective Glass

They also improve comfort levels by reducing glare and UV rays, which can cause eyestrain and even damage furniture.

Textured glass provides privacy while still allowing natural light to enter the home. This innovative material allows light to pass through while obscuring the view from outside, making it the perfect solution for bathroom or bedroom windows.

Textured glass

And the options are endless, with various textures and patterns available, you can customize the look and feel of your space while still enjoying a boost in privacy.

Buying the right kind of glass can make a huge difference in energy efficiency, noise reduction, and overall aesthetics. You need to consider the R-value or insulation rating when shopping for new window glass.

A higher R-value means better insulation, so it’s worth investing in glass with a high rating to keep your energy bills down. Another aspect to look at is sound transmission class (STC), which measures how well the glass blocks outside noise.

If you live on a busy street or in a noisy neighborhood, it may be worth upgrading to higher STC glass for a quieter home environment. Also, don’t forget about style: decorative or tinted glass that can add elegance to your windows.

With these factors in mind, you’ll be able to make the best choice for your vinyl windows and upgrade their function and appearance.

How to Replace Glass in Vinyl Window?

The process of replacing vinyl window glass can be challenging, but with careful preparation, it can be accomplished by most do-it-yourselfers. The following steps will guide you through the process of replacing the glass in a typical vinyl window:

Tools & Supplies Needed

  • Tape measure
  • Pry bar
  • Hammer
  • Putty knife
  • Screwdriver
  • Utility knife or box cutter
  • Caulking gun and caulk (optional)
  • Replacement glass panes (custom cut to size)
  • Glazing points or screws (if needed)
  • Vinyl window stop (if needed)

Step 1: Remove the Sash

The first step is to remove the window sash, which is the moveable part of the window that holds the glass panes. Before removing the sash, you will often need to use a putty knife or screwdriver to pry off the interior stop (the molding that holds the glass in place).

If the window has glazing points (metal fasteners that hold the glass in place), use a box cutter or utility knife to score around the perimeter of each pane. Be careful not to damage the vinyl frame.

Step 2: Measurement of the Window Pane’s Dimensions

Measurement of the Window Pane's Dimensions

Use a tape measure to get the width and height of the glass pane. For an accurate measurement, measure from inside the frame at all four corners.

If one or more of the panes is broken, you can still use the other ones as reference points. Just be sure to take note of any discrepancies so you can account for them when ordering your replacement glass.

Once you have the dimensions of the glass panes, you’re ready to order your replacement glass. You can do this online or in person at a local glass supplier. When ordering, specify that you need vinyl window glass (also called insulated glazing unit or IGU).

This type of glass is specially made for vinyl windows and will ensure proper fit and function. Once you have your replacement glass, it’s time to remove the old glass panes from the window frames.

Step 3: Remove the Stops and Parting Beads from the Frame

Remove the Stops and Parting Beads from the Frame

If you wish to remove the old glass, you must remove the stops, the pieces of wood or vinyl holding it in place. Take a putty knife or screwdriver and pry them off, being careful not to damage the stops as you might need to reuse them.

Step 4: Remove the Old Glass from the Window Frame

Remove the Old Glass from the Window Frame

Once the stops are removed, you should be able to tilt in the sash and pull it out of the frame. The glass may be held in place with glazing points or screws if the window is older.

If so, remove them and carefully pull out the old glass panes. Be careful not to break them as you remove them from the frame.

If they’re stuck, pry them loose with a putty knife or screwdriver. Again, be gentle with the stops or frames as you remove the old glass.

Step 5: Clean out the Window Frame

Clean out the Window Frame

Once the old glass is out, use a putty knife to remove any old caulking or sealant from the frame.

If the frame is damaged, you can use a hammer and chisel to remove any old vinyl stops or molding.

Use sandpaper to rough up the surface of the frame so the new caulk or sealant will adhere properly. Now it’s time to put the new glass in place.

Step 6: Cutting the New Glass Panes to Size

Make scoring marks around the perimeter of the new glass pane. This will help the glass to break cleanly and prevent it from shattering.

Place the glass pane on a sturdy surface and use your hands to snap it along the scored line. You can use a wet saw to trim it down to size. Or, you can use a Glass Cutter to score the glass and snap it along the scored line.

Dry fit the glass into the window frame to ensure it’s the right size. Once you have a good fit, it’s time to install the glass pane permanently.

Step 7: Install the New Glass Pane into the Frame

Apply adhesive tape to the frame

Apply adhesive tape to the frame and carefully set the new glass pane into place. Carefully set it in the new glass pane and press it firmly into place. You can trim the glass with a wet saw if it is too big.

Install the New Glass Pane into the Frame

Install the new glass in reverse order, making sure to secure it in place with clips or retainers. Once the glass is in place, screw the stops. Put the glass stops in place and gently tap them into place with the back of the putty knife.

You can either reuse the old ones or buy new ones at a local hardware store. If you’re using screws, be sure to countersink them, so they’re flush with the surface of the stop.

Step 8: Use Glazing Points or Caulk to Secure the Glass Pane in Place

Once the stops are in place, you can apply caulk or glazing points to secure the glass pane further. If you’re using glazing points, space them out evenly around the edge of the glass.

If you’re using caulk, apply it all around the pane and smooth it out with your finger. This will help to create a weather-tight seal and prevent water from leaking into the frame.

Step 9: Snap the Sash Back into Place

Once the glass is installed, you can snap the sash back into place. Make sure it’s level and even with the frame. If it’s not, you can use a shim to prop it up until it is level.

That’s it! You’ve successfully installed new glass panes in your window frames. Congratulations!

When do You Need to Replace Your Vinyl Window Glass?

When do You Need to Replace Your Vinyl Window Glass?

When it comes to replacing windows’ glass pane, there are a few key reasons why someone might want to consider it. The most common reason is due to damage. If the glass is cracked, chipped, or otherwise damaged, it will need to be replaced to maintain the integrity of the window.

Another reason may be condensation. If there is a lot of condensation between the panes of glass, it means that the seal has failed and needs to be replaced. This can happen over time due to weathering or wear and tear.

Consider a full-frame or new construction option instead of just doing a pocket replacement. If the existing frames are old and deteriorating, it’s important to make sure they get fully replaced to maintain the structural integrity of the home.

If the windows are installed in a new build, there’s no point in using old framing materials when brand-new ones can be used. On top of that, if the current windows are out of style or were poorly installed by a previous company, a full replacement may be necessary to achieve the desired aesthetic and function.

Before choosing a contractor, make sure they have experience working with vinyl windows specifically. Ask about the warranty and any additional services they offer, such as disposal of the old windows or customization options.

Improve Your Windows Display Performance

It’s not just about keeping the structure sound when you replace old vinyl window glass, it’s about upgrading your home’s style and bringing added comfort. With the right windows, you can make a bold statement or create a warm and inviting atmosphere in any room.

And don’t forget about energy efficiency; installing new, efficient windows can greatly improve comfort and save on heating and cooling bills. It is easy and inexpensive to replace vinyl window glass by following the simple DIY steps outlined above.

Take advantage of this chance to upgrade and transform the look and feel of your home. But don’t just take my word for it; give it a try yourself and see the amazing results for yourself.

How to Replace Vinyl Window Glass: Guide to Everything

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